GB Boxing has selected the 13 men and women that will compete at the forthcoming European Games in Krakow, Poland where they will have an opportunity to secure qualification for next Summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.
The boxers will be part of a contingent of 178 athletes that will represent Team GB at the multi-sport event from 21 June – 2 July 2023 when 44 places to box at Paris 2024 will be on offer.
Team GB’s boxing line-up is comprised of seven men and six women from England, Scotland and Wales and includes seven boxers that won medals at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The seven male selections include 2021 European champion, Harris Akbar (ENG) and three Commonwealth Games gold medallists, Delicious Orie (ENG), Lewis Williams (ENG) and Reese Lynch (SCO). They are joined by Kiaran MacDonald (ENG) and Taylor Bevan (WAL), who both won silver at Birmingham 2022. Talented newcomer, Jack Dryden (ENG), completes the men’s team at featherweight.
The group of six women includes 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Rosie Eccles (WAL), Demie-Jade Resztan (ENG), who won silver in Birmingham and Tokyo Olympian, Charley Davison (ENG), who will be looking to secure qualification for her second Olympic Games when the action gets underway in Krakow.
The trio will be joined in Poland by Kerry Davis (ENG) and Shona Whitwell (ENG) who took part in the 2022 World Championships in Turkey and Elise Glynn (ENG) who boxed at the 2022 European championships in Montenegro.
GB Boxing’s Performance Director, Rob McCracken said: “The Paris Olympic cycle is shorter than the usual four years (owing to Covid) and means this qualifying event has come around very early, so this will be a test for the boxers.
The European Games is always a top-quality competition and I expect this one to be especially challenging. It will be competitive in every weight class and our boxers will need to be at their best to secure qualification as they are competing for a relatively small number of Olympic places.
“Changes to the weight categories for Paris 2024 mean the men’s selection was particularly competitive and has resulted in a lot of talented boxers in the GB Boxing squad missing out on this occasion which is disappointing because many of them have the ability to go to the Olympic Games and do well. It is unfortunate but this is the harsh reality of elite sport and means that the boxers we have selected need to look forward to the challenge and make the most of this opportunity.”
Super-heavyweight, Delicious Orie, will go to the competition in good form after returning from his most recent competition, the Feliks Stamm in Poland, with a gold medal.
Orie said: “It has been good to get bouts under my belt because these are the kind of guys I’ll be boxing at the Games. They are the best in the sport so it’s good for me to get as many rounds as possible with them and improve how I approach them each time.
“This is the first step to achieving everything I’ve been dreaming of since I began boxing. I have been lucky enough to learn from the previous Olympians at GB Boxing both from being around them in the gym and also having the chance to go out to Tokyo as a sparring partner for Frazer Clarke so it’s set-up really well for me to take the opportunity that’s in front of me.”
Another boxer in good form is Wales’s Rosie Eccles who also won gold in her most recent outing at the Czech Grand Prix in May. She will be competing at her second European Games after representing Team GB in Minsk in 2019.
Eccles said: “It feels really good to be selected for the European Games and a proud moment to represent Team GB again as it is not an opportunity that comes around too often.
“To be able to go out there and have a chance to qualify for the Olympics, which is only a year away, is really exciting. It’s what I’ve been aiming for since the age of eight years old so to qualify at the Games in Krakow would be amazing and a dream come true.”
The only member of the team with experience of competing at an Olympic Games is mum-of-three, Charley Davison, who competed at Tokyo 2020 and will box at bantamweight in Krakow.
Davison said: “Selection is always a daunting and nervy time because you train so hard in the lead-up to it, so I am just grateful to have this opportunity. It will be my first European Games so I want to enjoy every moment and make sure I box to the best of my ability and that all the hard training pays-off.
“Having been to an Olympics, I have had a taste of what it is like, so it makes me strive to get that chance again and this time go one step further and get a medal. I believe I am more than capable of getting myself on that podium now I have that experience from Tokyo and other international tournaments I’ve been to in the last few years.
“The European Games is the first step towards that so it will just be about getting in the ring, being myself and boxing naturally and then hopefully the qualification will come with that.”
The one Scottish representative in the boxing line-up is light-welterweight, Reese Lynch, who won a bronze medal at the 2021 world championships and gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Lynch said: “It felt brilliant to be selected for the European Games and I am so excited to get out there. When I came to GB Boxing, becoming an Olympian was the aim so to now have the chance to make that a reality and win my first European medal would be pretty special.
“Over the last 18 months I have been to some major competitions as well as some intense training camps and with that comes the opportunity to test yourself against some of the very best from all across the world. Having that exposure is only going to help me grow and develop as a boxer and I am sure it will help me going into the European Games.”
The 13 boxers from the GB Boxing squad will be joined in Poland by Cindy Ngamba, who is a ‘Training partner’ of the GB Boxing squad and will compete at middleweight for the ‘Fair Chance’ Refugee team.
Born in Cameroon, Ngamba, is in the process of applying for a British passport and trains with the GB Boxing squad at its base in Sheffield. Although she does not receive any funding from the World Class Programme (WCP) for boxing, Ngamba will share accommodation with the British team in Krakow where she will be supported by coaches and support staff from GB Boxing.
The number of boxing weight categories for Paris 2024 has been changed since Tokyo 2020 and means there is one fewer men’s weight classes and one more for women. The boxing competition at the European Games will be held at the 13 Olympic weight categories which will see more than 350 men and women compete for 44 places at Paris 2024.